Congressional Corner With Anthony Brindisi
Could central New York see another nail-biter this November?
In today’s Congressional Corner, Democrat Anthony Brindisi of New York’s 22nd Congressional district wraps up his conversation with WAMC’s Alan Chartock.
This interview was recorded September 2.
Alan Chartock: Here I am in the Congressional Corner. I'm Alan Chartock and we’re with my friend, Congressman Anthony Brindisi. Congressman Brindisi, you didn't win by a lot last time. How are you gonna beat Claudia Tenney this time?
Congressman Anthony Brindisi: Well, we're probably gonna we're gonna run a very similar campaign that we ran last time. What I hear time and time again from people in my district is Anthony, we just want a representative who solves problems. We just want a representative who is who is effective and gets things done. And I think that what I have shown over the last two years, I may not have the most Twitter followers and I know some people may judge success of a representative by how many Twitter followers they have. But in my district, people judge you by the number of bills you get passed and signed into law. They judge you by the number of constituents that you're able to help with social security issues, and veteran issues, and Medicare issues, IRS issues, things like that. And that's really what I have focused on my last two years. I'm one of the few freshmen members of the caucus that has actually had legislation signed into law by the president in the last two years. In fact, I've had four pieces of legislation signed into law by the president and they're on issues that are important to people back in my district. As was mentioned, I serve on the Veterans Affairs Committee and I focus a lot on mental health issues in our veteran community, suicide prevention in our veteran community. I've had two pieces of legislation that will help fight the suicide epidemic that's happening among our veterans and also provide resources to veterans who live in rural areas. Another big issue in my district, and really across upstate New York is the loss of manufacturing. You know, we've seen it over the years. We've lost a lot of big manufacturers here in upstate New York. And that's a lot of jobs that have had have left. So another bill that I got passed and signed into law will help require the Department of Defense buy American made products. I'd rather see our tax dollars going to support American made products as opposed to going overseas and supporting a company based in China, which is an adversary. That's another bill. And then finally I had a bill pass that was signed into law that would help prevent a new tax from going into effect on Medicare Advantage plans. You know, I have a lot of senior citizens that live in the district. Health care costs are always at the top of mind, and that's something that I focused on through that legislation, but also working to help lower prescription drug costs through a bill we passed in the House. So that's the message I'm going to run on being effective getting things done. And not someone who's dividing people. Someone who is bringing people together. And I hope the voters appreciate that. And will honor me with a second term.
So how is Joe Biden doing? He's been selected. He was a moderate. I think you're a moderate. I think that's fair to say. And he seems to be doing well in the polls right now. Maybe seven, maybe eight points. Who knows? But what do you make of his efforts?
Well, I would I would say, and I would tell this to anyone running for president, don't pay attention to the national polls. I think they're misleading. And what you really got to look at is state by state in particularly those battleground states and see what the numbers are there. And even that you take with a grain of salt. I think the vice president’s got to get out there a little more, he's gotta get on the trail. You know, the president's out there every day, for better or worse, talking on issues, and I think the vice president has to be out there. Vice President Biden should get out there and speak on issues as well, talk about the divisions in our country and how you're going to heal the divisions, talk about healthcare, talk about prescription drugs, and focus on issues that matter to the people across the country, those kitchen table issues. That's what I do. You know, I look at not getting involved in national politics, but really looking at how to localize things, how to make sure we're focusing on the issues that people care most back home. So it takes a lot of effort and a lot of outreach and being in the community. And whether it's at the local level, running for your local school board, whether it's running for Congress, or president. You got to be out in the community and across the country, giving people a reason to want to vote for you
Kamala Harris was selected. First of all, did you think it was a good pick as the vice presidential nominee on Biden's ticket?
You know, I think it was a good pick. Obviously the vice president has to pick someone who he is compatible with and can gel with and someone who can step into the shoes of a president at a moment's notice. You know, we'll see what happens in terms of the election. And I tell people this all the time in my district, you know, you may have your preferences for who should be the next president. But I want you to know that as your representative, I'm going to work with a Trump Pence administration just as hard as I'll work with a Biden Harris administration. And it's important for the people in my district that they have a representative who works with the president, when it helps move the country forward, but also stand up to the president, whoever he or she may be when they are doing something that harms the country, harms the state, or harms the district you represent.
Kamala Harris, the question is, if Joe Biden fails, if something happens, if he has a health problem, can she, in your opinion, could she become president? I mean, could she do a good job as president?
I have no doubt she could become president. It remains to be seen, I think anyone's got to come in with a blank slate and you judge them and how they do. But, you know, serving as a US senator, having a background as a prosecutor, no stranger to state office, and going through a presidential campaign, I have no doubt that she could step into the shoes and be president. You know, we'll see what happens over the next two months. But it'll be an interesting election to say the least.
Do you have any doubt the Democrats will continue to control the house in November?
I, if I'm betting I would say the democrats still hold the house in November. There's a number of seats that are competitive across the country in a lot of areas like Texas, other states, other suburban areas that Democrats are competing in. So I think that they will hold the house. I think it remains to be seen what happens in the Senate. And obviously, I still think it's a question mark as to what will happen at the presidency.
If they take the Senate, if the Democrats take the Senate, it's a whole new ballgame, isn't it?
Well, you'll have leader Chuck Schumer. And, you know, Chuck is someone I've worked very closely with over the years both state Assemblymember, someone who I've worked with very close on issues as a member of Congress, actually I was just talking to his staff this morning on an issue. So, you know, to me, the more New Yorkers we can get, the better.
Do you think he's properly vehement, vitriolic out there, as a leader? I've criticized him a little bit myself, because, you know, I like the guy very much, always have. But I know him and he’s got a terrific sense of humor and all of that. But it seems to me, you know, in a leadership position as a member of the Democratic Party, you got to really be out there right now, when everything is at stake.
I think you got to be out there when everything's at stake, but you also got to know how to make deals and get things done. And I think that's something Senator Schumer can do. He's someone who certainly understands how to make deals. And you know, that's what's most important. I think that it's what the American people by and large are looking for. They're looking for some common sense solutions, are looking for compromise. And I think the senator is someone who has shown a willingness to try and reach across the aisle and get things done.
Congressman Anthony Brindisi, a first term Democrat from New York's beautiful 22nd congressional district. Anthony, thank you so much for taking all this time. I know how busy you are, and we really do appreciate it.
Thanks, Alan. It’s great being with you.